» This Story:Read +| Comments
» This Story:Read +| Comments
Correction to This Article
Previous versions of this article incorrectly stated the origin of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The federal agency was created in 1993 to oversee several volunteer programs; in 1994, Congress charged it with promoting the Martin Luther King holiday as a National Day of Service. This version has been corrected.

For King Holiday, Calling All Volunteers

Video
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell Colin Powell held a press conference today to announce "Renew America Together," a service initiative that will take place next Monday to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 10, 2009; Page A01

President-elect Barack Obama is urging the nation to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as it was originally intended: as a national day of service.

This Story
View All Items in This Story
View Only Top Items in This Story
This Story

With the holiday falling the day before his Jan. 20 inauguration, Obama is seeking widespread volunteer initiatives across the country, such as serving meals to the homeless, cleaning schools and neighborhoods, or helping disadvantaged youths and the elderly.

Colin L. Powell, an honorary chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, announced the "Renew America Together" initiative yesterday. He said he hopes the enthusiasm surrounding Obama's election victory will inspire Americans to finally meet the holiday's promise.

The federal holiday, first observed 23 years ago, has never settled into American traditions, such as parades on the Fourth of July or family dinners on Thanksgiving. The Corporation for National and Community Service, was created in 1993 to oversee several volunteer programs and, in 1994, Congress charged it with promoting the Martin Luther King holiday as a National Day of Service. But the service day -- tied to King's birthday, Jan. 15, and inspired by his words that "everybody can be great because anybody can serve" -- never quite caught on.

Obama, who will become the nation's first African American president, plans to take part in Washington area activities along with his family, although details were not announced. Powell, who made history himself as the first African American secretary of state, has long promoted volunteerism.

"Inaugurations are always a new start," Powell said. "Inaugurations are a time for new leadership to come in and charge the nation to deal with the problems that we have."

The Corporation for National and Community Service, is "thrilled with the extraordinary high level of attention the incoming president is giving this," spokesman Sandy Scott said.

Last year, the agency recorded about 500,000 volunteers participating in roughly 5,000 service projects on King Day, Scott said in an interview. "This year will be the largest ever, fueled by President-elect Barack Obama's call to service. . . . The number of volunteers will be in the millions," he said.

Organizers are hoping that those who volunteer will stick with it year-round.

"Mentor at a school. Go to a first-grade class and read," Powell said. "Go to a place where older people need to have company, need to have people visit with them."

The call is similar to that given by other presidents, from John F. Kennedy with the Peace Corps, to George H.W. Bush with the Points of Light, to Bill Clinton with AmeriCorps.

Like Obama's presidential campaign, the current effort has a modern, Internet-driven twist.


CONTINUED     1        >

» This Story:Read +| Comments
» This Story:Read +| Comments

More in the Metro Section

Local Blog Directory

Find a Local Blog

Plug into the region's blogs, by location or area of interest.

Virginia Politics

Blog: Va. Politics

Here's a place to help you keep up with Virginia's overcaffeinated political culture.

D.C. Taxi Fares

D.C. Taxi Fares

Compare estimated zoned and metered D.C. taxi fares with this interactive calculator.

FOLLOW METRO ON:
Facebook Twitter RSS
|
GET LOCAL ALERTS:
© 2009 The Washington Post Company